Walking, wheeling and cycling helps the Scottish city of Edinburgh save 38,000 in greenhouse gas emissions and generate more than £186.2 million in economic benefits every year.
That’s according to a new report, which suggests 66% of residents in Edinburgh walk at least five days a week – more than any other mode of transport and above the national average of 50%.
The Walking and Cycling Index also found 26% of residents cycle at least once a week, out of a survey of 1,346 people.
It suggests people choosing to travel by foot, wheel or bike help take up to 150,000 cars off the road every year and save the NHS more than £8.2 million through the associated health benefits.
However, the report also found 70.7 million journeys up to three miles are still driven in Edinburgh annually and 78% of respondents said more shops and everyday services close to home would encourage them to walk and cycle more.
The same percentage of people also supported the creation of more 20-minute neighbourhoods.
In addition, the report suggests around 23% of residents currently don’t cycle but would like to and 64% said more physically separated cycle lanes along roads would help them to cycle more.
Several major cycling infrastructure projects are already underway or in the pipeline and the City of Edinburgh Council has rolled out 106 cycle parking hangars over the last two years, with a total of 180 hangers to be installed as part of the programme’s initial phase.
Daisy Narayanan, Head of Placemaking and Mobility at the City of Edinburgh Council said: “As ever, this report provides a fascinating snapshot of people’s walking, wheeling, and cycling habits – and the immense benefits active travel can bring, not only to our own health but the environment, the economy and the quality of life here.
“Transport currently accounts for just under a third of Edinburgh’s emissions and it’s clear that there’s an urgent need to aid and encourage more sustainable ways of travelling if we’re to meet our 2030 net zero target. Responses to the Walking and Cycling Index provide an excellent guide for the kind of changes we need to make – people are telling us what we need to do to help them to travel by foot, wheel or bike, particularly for shorter journeys.”
The council adds it is investing £108 million over the next few years to transform walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure across the capital.